SIM Card Guatemala…how in the world do you navigate which company to buy, where to get it and which plan to go with?!
We had exactly those same questions before we arrived in Guatemala. It’s always important that when you land in a new country – the first thing you do is get a SIM card.
You need to be connected to the internet so you can let your family know you’re okay or simply post an Instagram story saying “We’ve arrived!!”.
Yeah, wifi can work but what if you need to go out and heavily rely on Google Maps to get around like us? You’re going to need to buy a SIM card in Guatemala with a good data plan and the best coverage around the country.
We went through the entire process ourselves and live to write this blog post about buying a SIM card in Guatemala. We made this as detailed and informative as possible so you get only the information you need.
SIM Card Guatemala Guide 2023
- Which SIM card company should you go with?
- Where do you buy a SIM card in Guatemala?
- Which data plan should you take?
All of those questions need to be answered before you even step into a store. The last thing you want is to be flabbergasted and overwhelmed by the questions at the official store! We did a lot of research before buying ours and it honestly pays off! Since you’re reading this blog – you’re already on the right track!
It’s actually not as complicated as it seems and we’ve made this guide as simple as possible for you to easily understand and successfully get a SIM card in Guatemala. It’s as easy as buying a SIM card in Playa del Carmen, Mexico too!
Need The Quick Answer? Buy a Tigo prepaid SIM card – it has the best and fastest coverage around the country. You can buy it at any tienda or official Tigo store and it will cost $13 USD for 8GB of data plus free social media apps usage for 30 days.
Here’s the complete guide to buying a SIM card in Guatemala:
Mobile Internet Providers in Guatemala – 2 Companies
There are 3 mobile providers in Guatemala – Tigo, Claro and Movistar Guatemala. However, only 2 companies are actually worth the money.
The 2 best mobile providers in Guatemala are:
- Tigo Guatemla
- Claro Guatemala
We recommend Tigo! We asked our Guatemala friend which one we should go with and it was a resounding “Tigo”. There’s no doubt that Tigo has the best coverage all over the country which is important if you plan to go to places like Lake Atitlan, Flores, Antigua and more.
Claro is also a good option with very good coverage but it’s just not as great as Tigo. The data plans are slightly bigger (you’ll get more gigabytes) but you’ll also pay more for a Claro SIM card in Guatemala.
This Is The Best Pre-Paid Sim Card Guatemala
The ultimate question…
…Which is the best sim card in Guatemala for you to buy?
Tigo! Depending on how long you stay in Guatemala, they offer 1, 2, 3, 7, and 30 day plans. As digital nomads, we normally stay in a country for 1-3 months and the 30 day package makes the most sense!
Tigo SIM Card Guatemala Offers
Tigo offers deals for a number of days which gives you 8GB of data / internet for things like Google searches or Maps, etc and it also includes unlimited social media usage depending on the length of days.
You can buy data plans for 1, 2, 3, 7 and 30 days. It’s important to note that for days 1-7, you get a certain amount of data as the internet package and only unlimited access to WhatsApp. If you take a 30 day plan, you will get 8GB of data plus unlimited social media (WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Spotify).
If you’re a digital nomad like us, we recommend taking the 30 day internet package with unlimited social media. This also includes unlimited calls and text on the network.
We took a 30 day plan since we were staying in Guatemala for at least a month. The amount of data was more than enough for us to get around and search on the internet and the unlimited social media usage eg. Instagram is perfect!
The Tigo SIM card itself costs 50 GTQ ($6.50 USD). If you don’t already have a Tigo SIM card, you will need to pay this but only for the first time. Once you’ve got it – you only have to pay for the top-up recharge costs.
Claro SIM Card Guatemala Offers
If you can’t find a Tigo store anywhere around you – Claro is your next best option!
It’s really a close second to Tigo because the coverage is pretty good – it’s just not as great. This won’t be a problem if you stay in the main tourist areas like Lake Atitlan or Antigua. If you travel further out to Semuc Champey or Flores – you could switch to Tigo later if you’re worried about the reception.
The data plans offer much bigger gigabytes. If you need more GB to do the mobile hotspot and work, Claro might be the better option for you. However, it does cost more than Tigo.
Note: One of the annoying things about the phone companies in Latin America is that they send an absurd amount of spam texts! You’ll get plenty of promotional text messages throughout the day almost every single day! You could probably turn off notifications on your phone otherwise there’s no other way around it!
How to Buy a SIM Card Guatemala
There are a lot of different places to buy a SIM card in Guatemala. Here are the most popular (and convenient) ways to buy yours:
- Option #1: buying at the small tiendas on the side of the street
- Option #2: buying at the official Tigo/Claro stores
Sometimes the small tiendas won’t sell the SIM card but you can recharge/top up your data plan for any tiendas that have a Tigo or Claro sign.
The best (and easiest) way to buy a SIM card in Guatemala is to go into the official stores of Tigo and Claro. This also allows you to be confident you’re being registered properly and you can be confident you’ll get exactly what you want.
If you go with option #2, you’ll also be speaking with the sales rep directly. They will know the latest deals, help you set up your new number and help choose the right plan for you!
Even with our limited Spanish, it was so much better and saved us hassle down the track!
TTA PRO TIP: Once you’ve got your SIM card, immediately take a photo of your new numbers. As digital nomads, we are constantly buying new numbers and this makes it really to pull up your phone number when you need it (we create a photo album of our current number).
Where To Buy A SIM Card Guatemala
You can buy SIM cards in most places in Guatemala. We highly recommend you buy it either in Antigua or Lake Atitlan.
While you could buy it at the airport, it’s always too stressful for us because we’re just trying to get to our Airbnb and don’t have ample time to assess the companies, the SIM cards, plans, pricing, etc.
You should choose the SIM card company you want to go with first before stepping into any stores. It’s easier to choose than simply head to the closest store to you. Even if you need to go further out of your way – you’ll only need to do this once which makes the trip worth it!
Here’s the location of SIM card stores in Lake Atitlan and Antigua.
Location of SIM card stores in Antigua, Guatemala:
It’s much easier to get a SIM card in Antigua than it is in Lake Atitlan. There are so many more store locations all around town.
Depending on where you stay in Antigua, you can either walk to the store or take an Uber (which is available here). Both stores are only a couple of blocks away from the main square in Antigua. Now you don’t have to buy your SIM card in these official stores – some people prefer to do it from the smaller tiendas – it’s up to you!
Here’s the official store location to buy a Tigo SIM card in Antigua, Guatemala.
Here’s the official store location to buy a Claro SIM card in Antigua, Guatemala.
Location of SIM card stores in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala:
Did you come from San Cristobal to Guatemala like us? You probably got dropped off in Panajachel and spent the night after the long 14-hour journey! Or maybe you took the shuttle from Antigua to Lake Atitlan? If you’re planning on staying at the lake for a while – here’s where to buy a SIM card in Lake Atitlan.
Where To Buy A SIM Card In Panajachel
Panajachel (aka Pana as the locals say) is the best place to buy a SIM card. It is the main town on Lake Atitlan to withdraw cash, visit banks and get a brand new SIM card.
The Tigo SIM card location in Panajachel, Lake Atitlan is near the Claro one – just be on the lookout.
Here’s the store location to buy a Claro SIM card in Panajachel:
Price of a SIM Card Guatemala 2023
In Guatemala or Central America in general, you have to buy the SIM card itself and then buy the data plan to go with it. If you stay at least a month – you will get the best deals on internet packages!
The cost for a Tigo SIM card Guatemala is:
- 50Q ($6.50 USD) for the chip/SIM
- + 99Q ($13 USD) for 8GB on the 30 day data plan
- = 149Q ($19.50 USD) total for both the chip and plan.
The cost for a Claro SIM card Guatemala is:
- 0Q FREE chip/SIM
- + 199Q ($26 USD) for 15G on the 30 day data plan
- = 199Q ($26 USD) total for both the chip and plan.
Do I Need a Passport to Buy a SIM Card in Guatemala?
Yes, you need to have your passport with you to buy a SIM card in Guatemala.
This seems to be a thing all over Latin America where they need your passport to be able to register the phone number. We brought ours because we figured this was the case like when we bought our SIM cards in Medellin. However, you don’t need a passport to buy a SIM card in Mexico.
How to Top-Up/Recharge Your Guatemalan SIM Card
Recharging your SIM card in Guatemala is very easy!
You can go up to any tienda (small shop) or convenience store with a sign that says Tigo or Claro. Simply say you need to recharge your data (not saldo – which is balance in Spanish meaning calls/texts). They will likely pull out the list of data plans and deals – you can just point out which one you want and they will handle the rest.
A recharge/top-up will cost around 99Q ($13 USD) for 30 days with 8GB of data and unlimited Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Spotify.
Which Is The Best SIM Card in Guatemala in 2023?
If you want the best coverage and fastest speed all over Guatemala – Tigo Guatemala is the provider you need to go with!
Our Guatemalan friend verified Tigo was the best and that’s we chose it. On Lake Atitlan, it’s very rare/impossible to get 5G at the moment but we did get 3G and 4G at times. In Antigua, you’ll always get 4G or LTE which makes connecting to the internet very easy and hassle-free!
This guide should make it easy and hassle-free to get choose the right providers, internet plans, and more. We hope this was helpful for you! It’s pretty stressful to be in a foreign country and not have access to the internet – that’s why it’s so important for you to get your Guatemalan SIM card right away. We realize how much we rely on data when we can’t use Google Maps to get to a restaurant lol!